No Prospects / Change of Heart Special (2021)
No Prospects and Change of Heart Special (2021) explore the search for love and reliance on algorithms to shape desires with research into the prevailing surveillance structure of contemporary reality TV productions and the masochism of the early dating show Change of Heart (1998 - 2003). The two essay shorts capture research that critiques this approach to love through moralistic and corrective positions. The research queries: what happens when we collapse the personal and public under surveillance?
A growing trend of dating reality television has been restricting and controlling contestants' bodies. Netflix's Love is Blind (2019 - ) is premised on contestants speaking to rather than seeing prospective partners before committing to marital engagement. Participants treat their material bodies as cumbersome, seemingly dreaming of Antonin Artaud's body without organs.
Too Hot to Handle (2019 - ) manipulates chastity by restricting sexual activity to 'green-light' periods once contestants reach emotional intimacy in their pairings. A virtual assistant device, Lana, akin to Hal in 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), monitors participants. The intervention to contestants' experience of each other's bodies and agency over their own anticipated the social reality of the pandemic. In March 2020, Big Brother Germany found itself mirroring Charlie Brooker's apocalyptic zombie satire Dead Set (2008), with participants unaware of the outside catastrophe while within the house. Whereas Love Island USA 2020 brought singles together in a hermetically sealed bubble, pre-vaccination. The science-fiction of our realities underscores the experiences and stakes for contestants. To be voted off is not only to lose out on opportunities and relationships but to be booted back to the great unknown. And what waits for us there?
No Prospects/Change of Heart Special (2021) originally premiered as part of Transmissions (Season 3, Episode 4), screened online in partnership with Somerset House Studios, and not/nowhere.